In November of 2019, an NBC spokesperson exclusively spoke to Variety explaining that neither Julianne Hough nor Gabrielle Union would be returning to the show for the 15th season. At the time of the announcement, there was little word on why Hough and Union were out on the show, but days later, Union spoke out.
In the exclusive with Variety, members working on the show explained the toxic workplace culture at NBC. But it seems Hough and Union had different experiences working for the competition show. Insiders told Variety that Union and Hough received “excessive notes on their physical appearance” and that “Hough had received consistent criticism on hair, makeup, and wardrobe which impacted her morale and led to tensions.” But Hough denied this statement, saying that was not her experience.
“I had a wonderful time on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ I loved working with the cast, crew and producers,” Hough said in a statement provided to Variety before continuing, “I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC.” At the time, Hough had two other NBC holiday shows in the works.